Friday, February 1, 2013

NYC Fabric Store Review: Fabrics Garden

Recently, I was told about this store by a professional friend, who considers it to be one of her favorites.  At times, I feel as if I have developed garment district "blinders" that keep me from noticing things that have been directly in front of me for years. Despite walking right past this store a likely three billion times over the past few years, I have never set even a single foot inside.  I' not sure why I never felt moved to enter; it may have been something as simple as the very small staircase in front, the uninspiring name, or that the glance from outside gives the impression that they sell only formal fabrics.  Well, whatever it was, I'm glad I finally stepped inside.

Front window, as seen from the street.
While  lots of African laces, flamboyant costume, look-at-me novelty and over-the-top formal fabrics crowd the front of the store, a patient breath and a few steps forward will reveal that there is a lot more to behold.  The curation of this store's offerings is interesting, compared to many of the others in the district.  The colors are a bit more vibrant, and the palette more deliberately "foreign", but exciting, in a way I can't quite define.  Some unexpected patchworked fabrics tickled my fancy, and some of the African waxcloths folded and stacked neatly on a table were done in great colors.

Cool, right?  Who does a black/grey patchwork? (Fabric is  actually darker than the photo appears.)

One thing I was very happy to find, was the inexpensive fabric perfect for the pants I make for one of my regular clients.  Just the right weight, plenty of it, and at just the right price! My old source for this fabric had run out, and I hadn't been able to find more of it recently! Fabrics Garden had lots of sueded fabrics and nice corduroys.  A world of printed cottons and novelty fabrics, and some very interesting knits lined the walls, too.

What kind of customer was inside?  From my visit, I saw design students getting fabrics for class projects, and highly creative costume/designer-types, for whom budget was the major consideration.  There is a lot to choose from, to absolutely suit the impulse buyer, too, since the prices were all pretty low.  Keep in mind though, that these are no high-end goods, so I would suggest buying extra, and doing an appropriate wash/dry test with whatever you choose.

The staff was very helpful and friendly, without hovering.  One of my personal pet-peeves, although I must say, it only bothers me when the prices disappoint - is when you have to ask the price of everything, and there seems to be a bit of hemming and hawing over what the actual price is, and what you will actually pay.  You know they are gauging your excitement when determining what to charge, and that doesn't feel good. While you can pay with a credit or debit card, in theory, cash is king here, and they will not hesitate to tell you so.  In this economy, I certainly understand, but it needed to be said...

By the way, the owners of this store own a few others, located on 8th Avenue, so just know that they have access to quite a quantity/array of goods.
The words "double knit" have always sounded icky to me, but this a double knit I loved the texture of.  This fabric is actually inky black.  When I asked about fiber content, the salesperson was nice enough to remind me (if I were to buy some) to do a wash/dry test for shrinkage before use, to spare me any disappointment.
And this fabric (extremely affordable) left the store with me. I love its energy, and it will be something fun!
249 West 39th Street
Bet 7th & 8th Ave
New York
NY 10018
Tel : 212 354 6193
Fax : 212 354 6241

email :

Mon-Fri : 9.30am - 7.30 pm
Sat : 10.30am - 6.30 pm
Sun : 12.00pm - 5.00pm

*Notice that they have nearly full weekend hours, which many fabric stores do not!
*Notice that they have online ordering available also!  See their offerings here.


  1. Mimi, I know just what you mean about the unclear pricing at some stores. I find that looking like you're willing to walk away (and sometimes even doing it!) to be a good strategy for getting a better deal.

    Or you can ask, "Is that the best you can do?" (usually followed up by them asking "How much you want?).

    1. I know - it feels a little slimy, right? Except when it's fun!

    2. I am not a fan of being sized up before being told the price — having someone try to peg what kind of shopper I am and how much they can get out of me, it's offensive. I never go back to fabric stores that do that. I just feel like I am going to get ripped off.

    3. I understand. Hey, I tell it like it is, Suzanne. I just try to be fair in my description. I know exactly what you mean, though.

  2. I had a "floating price" experience at this store. The price somehow floated upward from what I was quoted in the back to what was about to be rung up in the front. I objected and prevailed. I'm hoping the incident was just a mistake.

    1. Ummm... I had the same experience yesterday. Guess that hasn't changed - ha!

    2. Oh dear. I thought maybe it was because one guy quoted the price but another one was ringing up, so there was a momentary communication gap.

      Another problem I run into is that some places won't cut less than a yard, until I say, "Thanks anyway," and turn to leave, when the policy suddenly changes. Sometimes I wonder what going in with dollar bills waving would do in those cases...streamline the process?

      Anyway, back to Fabrics Garden -- I know I got some (randomly-priced) silk there, and I think they had tie silk, too, at the time.

  3. I've been shopping in the garment district so long that if there is no give and take on the price in the smaller stores, I kinda wonder what's going on?! :) I've purchased a couple of pretty wools from this store. You're right you need to walk past the bright explosion of fabric in the front of the store and there are some gems to be found.

    1. Glad you've experienced it first-hand! There are some cool things to be unearthed, if you dive in!

  4. I've shopped here for beautiful wedding gown lace. While my bride and I scoured multiple stores ultimately, it came down to two choices from this store. They also had plenty of other colored laces and underlining. And yes, cash is king.

  5. Wow that is wonderful fabrics store. thanks for sharing this article.
    Guipure Lace fabric


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